While it’s still unlikely that the Denver Nuggets are going to end up in the playoffs or even competing for a spot, they’re doing rather well for a team many predicted will be the worst in the conference.
They’ve won five of their last six games, in all of them scoring 106 points or more. The defense is still a huge issue and will be all season, giving up 104.4 points per 100 possessions, while the offense is slowly catching up after a rough start with still under 100 points per possessions (bottom third of the league in both), but there are a few things this team does very well which make them dangerous to play against.
One of them, which is something of a draw back to the George Karl days, is offensive rebounding. The Nuggets are 7th in offensive rebounding percentage in the league, mostly thanks to Kenneth Faried, grabbing more than three per game. In higher paced games when their shooting isn’t awful (23rd in the NBA in field goal percentage), this comes in real handy. Otherwise, Faried remains the same player he has always been. High energy and great on the boards, but nothing else.
Maybe not having Emmanuel Mudiay for a couple of games, which meant a lot less turnovers than usual (he gives up the ball four times a game), giving some patience and experience through Jameer Nelson. Will Barton has been fantastic in the last few games, averaging 18.5 a night in their five of six run, while Danilo Gallinari, the team’s leading scorer with 17.5 points per game, is finally over the injury that kept him off the court for a year, scoring more points than he ever has, although shooting under 40% from the field.
The Nuggets are on a streak that might be misleading but at 11-14, they’re not too far from looking at that 8th spot in the West, which right now isn’t as difficult to get as in the past. It’ll probably take a lot of players suddenly losing a lot of bad habits, but after two rather depressing Brian Shaw seasons, the new, still finding themselves Nuggets can play with optimism and not with the usual confusion of a rebuilding team that’s not too sure where it’s all heading.